VERANDAHS and equivalent architectural forms Part – II

Post 548 by Gautam Shah



Verandahs are compared to Antaravedi, a land between two rivers -a Doab. A verandah is a territory between a public and a private domain. The duality of the verandah persists through its many different forms across climates and cultures. The usage varies from intensively participatory space, a shading device to a decorative appendage. Verandahs or similar architectural spaces have been placed on outer faces and also on inside face abutting the inner courtyards or chowks. These spatial entities have been ‘embryonic elements’ that have formed spaces and activities into a cohesive organization.




The built-form of rooms protects, but as an enclosed space it becomes sometimes oppressive enough, for need to transgress it. Walls are removed and roofs are punctured to connect to the outside or other spaces. The change is brought in or the space reaches out. The openings create a hierarchy of spatial zones, a remote or inner zone close to the wall, and a series of gradually varying environments of ‘internal openness’, and ‘external vulnerability. The spatial privacy and intimacy are passing and subjective, but not dependent on the spatial formations.




A verandah has had many architectural configurations. A lean-to like shade overtly attached to the shell of a building remains a casual expression for escape from the enclosed space. It is open on three sides as a transition space between interior and outdoor spaces. The low level of edge eaves frames the view. Such lean-to shades perambulate the house to provide shade and cover from the rains. It is a transition area between the public and private sections of the building, and circulatory space to access rooms that are often internally and intentionally unconnected, such as guest rooms, home office, food preparation area (Babarchi-khana), etc.





Pakistan Verandah

The verandah, of the mid-east architecture, the Iwan becomes the most important space for interactions, making the rest of the building a subdued refuge. Iwan or Liwan (Iwan with al prefix) relates to an old Persian word a-pad-an (appadana) standing for unprotected place (referring to the veranda-shaped structure open to the outside elements). A similar word in Sanskrit ‘apadana’ means ‘to arrive at‘. The Persian Apadana was a structure in as part of the palace buildings at Persepolis, with open verandas with columns on three sides. The columns and ceiling were replaced with a barrel vaulting, in Parthian and Sasanian architectures. This aywan of the post-Islamic architecture is a veranda, open on one face. A Riwaq is a longer or stretched out arcade or portico for transition, open on at least one side.



The traditional houses of mid-east regions have a multi-functional core space with distinctive spatial quality. The space offers controlled brightness and protection. It is more of a participatory space, and less for transition or circulation area. The space (till now) was for family engagements beyond the gender considerations. Such house forms with varied spatial arrangements, in various languages of the region, called as ‘tarma’, ‘riwaq’, ‘talar’, ‘ursi’, ‘hosch’ ‘sofa’, ‘eyvan’, engawa, ‘hayat, ‘lywan’, and ‘apadana’. These multi-functional core spaces are not outward transgressions but inward scoops incised from the shell of the built form. The front has been with and without columns, roof flat or vaulted, and the space height from single to multiple floors.


The typical Iraqi Tarma house is sited deep into the plot, with a largest possible courtyard in front of the Iwan space. The central space of the Tarma house is an atrium called as ‘hosch’ in Arabic. Tarma house courtyard has been often compared to A Roman atrium house (Also called Roman compliviatum). A Tarma house courtyard is open on all sides except for intentionally but separate buildings or neighbouring properties. A Roman atrium house, in comparison has a centrally located courtyard, well defined on all sides. Roman atrium side spaces can be compared to the Osari or Parsal spaces that abut a central courtyard called Chowk. Osari is a verandah or small Liwan like space with or without columns, on one or many sides of the courtyard. The Osari oriented to different directions and house elements (such as kitchen, entrance, water-storage, etc.) serves different purposes.



VERANDAHS and equivalent architectural forms

Post 522 by Gautam Shah



Verandah Kerala Village in India Wikipedia image by Author Yanajin33


Verandah is an architectural space ‘attached’ to the exterior part of a building, often with its own distinctive roof. Verandah has as many forms, as the word itself has meanings. The origin of the word is claimed to be both of India and Portugal. Some of the popular words for it across the world have been Veranda, Varanda, Verandah, Varandah, Baranda, Barandah, Barmda, Baramda, Barandilla and Varada. It is said that first recorded use of the word was in the journal of Vasco da Gama, voyage to Calicut in 1498. If the root is considered to be var, vara, bar or bara, these have base in both the languages. Sanskrit Var or Vara has several derivative-combinative meanings but Varanga (Var+anga)= best part (of the body) environing, enclosing, circumference, space or room has here very contextual relevance. Similarly to it, in Portuguese the vara is a rod (vaār in India =yard), stick (as in vara do castello,-high part of a castle from which one can see farthest into the distance – a platform -castellated). And Latin vara is a forked pole, structure with divergent pieces, trestle. Spanish baranda or barandilla is an entity with a railing of balustrades.

Porte Cochere at Waddesdon Manor, Author Giano at English Wikipedia

A less plausible explanation by Ronak Shah at the  > is word derived as a culmination of two Bengali words baahir =outside and andar =inside which together meaning ‘something that is considered outside, but situated inside a room or covered area‘. This explanation is wrong on the count that in Indian languages, A precedes B and D (both meaning second), such as Ek-Do, Ekai-Duhai, Ek-Be, etc., and so andar-baahir is better precedent than baahir-andar.

Portuguese Villa near Chapora, Goa, India, Author Dominik Hundhammer (User:Zerohund)

Another interesting word for verandah is Hindi word of Persian origin is Baramda or bar+amadah =coming out. It also has a sense of outdoors and barāmad =to acquire, possess or receive. Gazal by Nomaan Shauque explains the word baramad well – Dūbne vaalā hi thā sāhil barāmad kar liyā / us ne bil-āķhir dil hamārā barāmad kar liyā” (here baramad is used for –to acquire). Was baramada a space for acquiring entry to the house or gaining pleasures of the environment?

Wiss House at Kalbar, Scenic Rim Region, Queensland, Australia Wikipedia image by Author Shiftchange

Antaravedi a word generally used for land between two rivers (doab) has also been mentioned by Hemchandracharya (a dictionary maker of the 12th C) in terms of a structure resting on columns. Is a territory between two rivers -an Antaravedi signifies some metaphoric connection to a verandah -a place between outside-inside?

Gandhi ashram Verandah Ahmedabad, India Wikipedia image by Author Umar

Verandah has many architectural synonymous forms such as Lanai, Piazza, Stoop, Galilee, Portico, Porch, Solarium, Sun-porch, Sun-room, Sun-Parlour, Awning, Engawa, Arcade, Colonnade, Porte-cochere, Patio, Deck, Balcony and Gallery. In the Indian context the equivalent forms are Osari, Padvi, Padavi, Padsal, Padsala, Parsal, Pad-osri, Oti, Osaro and Oto.

Grande style Verandah Image by Author Cgros841 at English Wikipedia

Verandah and View have intimate connection. Verandah+view together are linked to Seating, Resting, Meeting, Chatting, Breeze, Rain, Forest, Breakfast, High tea, Entrance, Exit, Reception, Goodbye, Home, Restaurant, Resort, Rivera and Bungalow.

Colonies map of the Portuguese Empire (1415-1999)

Verandahs have been lively spaces across warm, humid and moderate climates of the world. From India and Portugal its functions have been formalized into many architectural styles. It has been formed into a ‘lean-to shed’ to stretched galleries on the front, sides and back of the buildings. The buildings have been houses, hotels, resorts, farm houses, clubs and commercial ones. The verandah has spread its shade to British, Portuguese and Spanish colonies and places of migrations, in India, SE Asia, Australia, West Africa and Americas.

Winifred Rawson nursing her son on the verandah of The Hollow. French doors from the sitting room open onto the verandah. Wikipedia image Author Edmund Rawson

Barbara Brooks1 has very aptly described her experience of life with verandahs as –“We ate, slept, received visitors, partied, told stories, grew plants, checked-out the weather and the neighbours, and daydreamed on the verandah. / Verandahs were part of my childhood: the kids played on the verandah when it rained,the men stood on the verandah to look at the sky and predict the weather, the women threw washing up water over the verandah rail to water the garden.”(1) In Search of Verandahs by Barbara Brooks University of Technology, Sydney, Creative Practices, Faculty Member.

Verandah Life